You’ve Just Been Winston-ed! Or #34, “Forbidden Love”

7 Jul

On first glimpse, I thought the cover art must have been Maria’s parents. Michael looks like Charlie Sheen. Maria looks drop dead HAWT but a little on the skinny side. Also, is that a barrette? Maria, I thought better of you!

We begin at 137 Calico Drive, where Jessica is gushing about the recent engagement between Michael Harris and Maria Santelli, whose families have been feuding for 4 years over some failed business partnership of which the details are rather sketchy. Liz has a furrowed brow and is worried about this “enormous mistake”, so we should know already that the marriage is DOOMED. “A nice guy – but a husband?”

Next thing, its cheerleading practice, and Maria is swearing vapid floozies like Amy Sutton and Lila Fowler to secrecy over the engagement, because the Santellis would flip if they found out about her sleeping with the enemy. Good luck with that.

Also at cheerleading, we get classic Annie Whitman moment #3 as she whinges about ex-bf and cheerleading coach Ricky Capaldo working them too hard: “Boy, Ricky sure knows how to tire a girl out,” she grumbles to Maria. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID! Somewhere in 1985 over a cup of instant and a typewriter, a ghostwriter is having the last laugh at Easy Annie. Also – is Ricky the smartest guy at SVH or what? How did he get that job? Maybe he’s the only person there with genitals….

Anyhow, we get our second inkling that the engagement is doomed when Maria walks home and wonders, “Why can’t we just go out like normal people do?!” Of course, getting engaged at 16 will solve that problem, right? How logical, Maria. You’re clearly ready for this.

Conveniently, the gang is beginning a marriage and family unit in social studies, in which they get paired up for a fortnight and talk about the BIG issues. You know, like budgeting and stuff. Olivia Davidson draws Jeffery [who is Liz’s long-term boyfriend this week] and says to Liz “I promise not to get carried away.” That’s funny Olivia. Because I swear in exactly 14 books you do get carried away and you and Jeffery are all over the slam books together! [Do we seriously have to wait until 1999 for a fridge to fall on this girl??]

Also, Bill Chase and Lila get matched up and he is an unemployed surfer. Heeee. By some sheer force of destiny, Maria is pretend-married to Michael. Trouble brews for the couple when Maria draws “housewife” as a job and is pissed about it. Suddenly, Michael turns into a total misogynist and basically tells her to get back in the kitchen. Listen to Fran-Pasc, Maria! She’s trying to warn you!

Now, for my favorite part – Maria has been helping me with my student council campaign every Tuesday and Thursday for months. [Ed: Are you serious? Does anyone actually put that much effort into a student freaking council campaign?? At my school, we had a one minute speech, the best-looking individuals got voted in, and it was done.] But on this day, she ditches me to pick out a freaking birthday present for Michaels sister! Michael morphs into a jealous prick because of all the time she’s been spending with me and forbids Maria to help me anymore. And then, this piece of gold when Maria gets the guilts:

It wasn’t just his campaign she was thinking about either. [Oh really??] It bothered her to upset him. The truth was that Maria had come to care a great deal for Winston. They had always been friends, but she used to think he was nothing more than a clown. [HEY!] Like many of her classmates, she had never realized how sensitive he was.

The proceeding chapters are full of some serious Liz-meddling. There must be at least 137 shoulder pats involved so bear with me as I condense it. Firstly, I have a cry to St Liz, which is kind of understandable because we’re actually friends. I confess how HAWT I think Maria is, and am despairing because now how will I become the PTA SRC or whatever acronym it is that I need to devote half a Sweet Valley year to??

Then, Maria phone Liz [I find it hard to believe she has nobody else to talk to about this.] And Liz is all judgmental about her ditching my campaign to be a passive housewife, so Maria actually stands up to Liz and yells “You’re just jealous because we’re engaged!!!” And slams the phone down. My sentiments exactly – just because Jeffery hasn’t put a ring on it.

I wish Fran-Pasc had left it at that, but then Maria goes and gets all apologetic about fighting back, and wonders why life can’t be as uncomplicated as it is when she’s with me. I’m a simple man, what can I say?

Meanwhile, back in the centre of the universe, Lila and Jessica are being completely self-indulgent and planning a surprise engagement party which the unhappy couple clearly does not want.
On their way to Lila’s to “meet her long lost cousin” Maria makes a rather reasonable suggestion that maybe it’s time to tell the parents [someone needs to fork out for the wedding] and Michael is all “you’re just tired of being engaged – maybe you’d rather we just broke up so you could go out with Winston”. Possessive jerk, ain’t he?

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Mr and Mrs Santelli [whose names were once Peter and Cathy but are now Frank and Cindy] run into Caroline Pearce’s mum, [whose goes by Lydia in this book]. Of course, Mrs P is just as bad as her daughter and blabs about the engagement, so the Santellis call the Harrises and hightail it to Fowler manor to knock some sense into their forbidden-lover-offspring. I have to have another gripe here about Mr Santelli and his many identities – isn’t he a practicing lawyer running for mayor in about 30 books? So what is this whole business partnership thing about anyway?

Back at the party, Michael’s jealousy has reached fever pitch, and he announces his bid to run against yours truly for PTA. Riiiight. Surely, at his own engagement party, he has something more profound to talk about in his speech, but it’s SVH so I shouldn’t be surprised. Maria suddenly feels guilty and runs after me, and he gives her an ultimatum: if she chases me, the engagement is off. Wow, such integrity. You guys are clearly ready for marriage. Of course, she comes to her senses and calls it off, and Michael goes to weep in the parlour, where his parents are making up with the Santellis. Feud? Oh, that old thing. Meh.

There is also a very humorous typo at this party, which is possibly just another ghostie with a good sense of humor having a crack at Creepy Collins. “Roger Collins, who was trying to spin Olivia, accidentally stepped on Aaron’s foot. “Hey! Watch it buddy!” Aaron snapped, his face red with anger. Roger, who was one of the most easygoing boys in SV, looked at Aaron in surprise.” Uh, one of the boys? You wish, Collins. Chaperoning the girl’s bathroom and school dances is one thing but this is just plain creepy. Though it’s fitting that he should be dancing with Olivia.

And just when we thought the night couldn’t get any worse, this pearl: Jeffery stroked Elizabeth’s hair tenderly. “Hey, there’s Michael!” she exclaimed as the door to the drawing room opened. “I’m going to talk to him.” [DESPITE THE FACT SHE HAS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM BEFORE OR SINCE.] Save me a dance, will you?” She is seriously worse than Caroline Pearce, but of course Michael spills his heart out and she OFFERS HIM HER SHOULDER AND CALLS HERSELF AN “IMPARTIAL OBSERVER” [Read: Meddling do-gooder.] Grrr.

Outside, Maria hunts me down, we have a little love scene which is actually quite tastefully done by Sweet Valley standards. But then, all is ruined with Michael and Maria’s chapter-long dissection of the failed engagement IN FRONT of the freaking social studies class. Because I’m sure Olivia Davidson and Bill Chase and Mr Jaworski wanted to know all about your issues. Michael and Maria exchange warm smiles. And Michael has never been heard of since.

Last thoughts: isn’t there a similar SVT story where the kiddies get married up and have to look after eggs? Maybe I dreamed it…

And finally, this tune from the Droids to get you slow-dancing on a rainy Tuesday: [I think their song-writing prowess is about as good as Liz’s journalistic efforts for the oracle. ]

Hold on to your love, girl

Hold on tight.

I’m telling you

I never knew

What love was babe, and now there’s you.

Hold on to your love, girl

Hold on tonight.

I’m telling you until I held you close to me

I never knew what joy could be.

And now there’s you….

And now there’s you….

4 Responses to “You’ve Just Been Winston-ed! Or #34, “Forbidden Love””

  1. ceruleanbreeze October 18, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    I also remember an assignment where they’re paired up and given eggs. Something about keeping the eggs inside shoes (flats, to be exact) in a wardrobe (and getting them mixed up), and someone cheating and boiling their egg so it wouldn’t break?

    Someone’s egg was slightly bumpy. Is it sad that I can recall these details after so many years?

  2. Jenna March 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    In what books were Maria’s parents named Frank and Cathy? I’m trying to find it and can’t. Thanks 🙂


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